Winter in the desert

Yesterday and today have been shorts and t-shirt weather. Last week was down jacket, gloves, and hats. But since the weather was so nice, we went out yesterday and again today to explore new places for photo safaris. I came across a web site for finding easy hikes around our area – you might find it useful, too.http://www.localhikesbeta.com/default.aspx#list/cityzipbox//20

ImageIt always amazes me that plants can grow out of rock. I know that there’s a crack in the rock, and that there’s dirt in that crack, but it’s still amazing.ImageI’m sure there’s a spider in there somewhere!

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I love rocks! There are so many colors and shapes within a rock. I was a Geology major for a while, and loved it, but I’ve forgotten a lot of what I learned.

ImageThe Sonoran Desert is amazing; so many different biomes in such a small area.

ImageThe shape and size of this dead tree is so beautiful. The trunk is mostly hollow, so I’m sure the tree won’t be standing for too much longer. There is still beauty in Winter.

ImageI have to include this shot; this saguaro is such a beautifully healthy specimen. From the size and the number of arms, it’s probably somewhere between 100 and 200 years old.

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Body Image

We women have bodies in every size and shape. The range of hair color is amazing. Eye color, too. So why are we never satisfied with what we have, with the way our bodies look? We are short and tall, thin and not-so-thin, have hair that is blonde, brunette, black, red; that’s wavy, curly, or straight. Our eyes are brown, blue, hazel, green, violet, black. Whatever we have we want something different. If we’re short, we wish we were tall; if we have straight hair, we wish it was curly; if we have curly hair, we wish it was straight. Some of these things we can change; colored contact lenses, perms, straighteners, hair dyes. But our bodies are something different. We can’t be what we are not, even though there are those out there who tell us we can.

And I’m not totally blameless here, either. I’m short and wished I were taller. I’ve never, ever, had a perfectly flat belly. I’ve fought my weight since puberty. Then somewhere around the age of 50, I began to truly understand that I would never have the body I thought I wanted. My body is determined to stay the shape it is and nothing I can do will change that.

I came of age in the 60s, when Twiggy was the latest thing in fashion. Her boyish body made all of us feel fat, even if we weren’t. Fashion model figures are unobtainable for almost all of us, so why do we still try? The few top fashion models are fortunate that they have the body shape and bone structure to look the way they do. And they have to work hard at maintaining that famined look. I was happy to see there is an 80 something fashion model who is still working; that there are more models out there with curves instead of sharp angles; and there are now plus-sized models who are well-known.

Change comes slowly to society, and it has to be demanded by the majority, and it has to be sold as absolutely necessary. I often ponder some of the things we women are expected to do and be. Who decided that hair on women’s legs and underarms was a bad thing and should be removed? Who decided that women wearing dresses or skirts had to wear stockings or pantyhose, or tights? And who decided that women’s breasts had to be confined and constrained in corsets and bras? Who came up with the idea that women had to wear makeup to look good? Many of us have bought into these ideas and now can’t imagine not doing some of these things. We were raised to think these were good; not doing them was bad. I admire the women with enough courage to break the mold. They are the women we should appreciate as good role models.

I have learned to love my body. It is the only one I will have in this life and still works wonderfully well considering how old it is. It isn’t perfect by society’s standards, but it’s perfect for me, and that’s what’s important. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never have a model’s body; that I will never be tall; that clothes never fit quite right. But I can also alter clothes so they do fit well; I can carry myself with good posture and grace; I can continue to eat healthy foods and exercise with the goal of being fit. I have this one body, this one life, and feel blessed to have it.

Age is beautiful

No, I will not hide and fade into the woodwork. I will not meet your expectations of what I should look like, what I should do at this age. This 63-year-old body sags and wrinkles and I refuse to lift or constrain it in any way. My hair is thinning; but that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to color it and wear outrageous hair styles as long as I want. My eyebrows are greying and disappearing, and my eyelashes are all but gone; but that doesn’t mean that I will stop wearing makeup to enhance what is left. My breasts are sagging and not as perky as they once were; but I will not wear bras that ‘lift and separate’, or make them pointy, or make me want to scream by lunchtime because I can’t breathe. My legs are not shapely and they have spider veins; but I will not wear pants or long skirts just because you don’t want to see them. I love my nail art that shows off my beautiful hands with their age spots and prominent veins and wrinkles (who knew you could get wrinkles on your hands?) I have skin tags, and moles, and other things you think are gross growing on my body. Yes, they are gross, but they are part of me; part of my body, and I have learned to live with them. I don’t need to look like the latest top model to be beautiful.

I may seem old to you, but I was once your age, with all the hopes and dreams you have; getting old wasn’t something I thought about as I’m sure you don’t either. But one day, you will be my age, and hopefully, much older. I hope that you don’t have to listen to snide remarks made where you think I won’t hear you. I’m not deaf and can still hear your whispers from across the room. I am living my life the way I want to live it; the fact that I have lived this long gives me that right – I have earned it. I have earned every wrinkle in this face by laughing and loving and losing. And I’m sure that more wrinkles will appear. And yes, I have ‘turkey neck’ and ‘flabby arms’ and a ‘menopot’. But this is the body I have, and I love it. It still gets me where I want to go. I can see and hear and touch and taste and smell. I’m not in my dotage and I still have opinions, and I will voice them.

So you young women out there, and you older ones, too; when will you rise up with us to stop society from thinking we are invisible? When will you start respecting your elders and listen to our wisdom? We didn’t live this long without learning something. We see what is wrong with the world and try to fix it. You think we’re crazy and have no right to tell you what we think. So listen to us; maybe you’ll learn something. We’re not fading away; we’re getting stronger, and we are beautiful, and we will make our voices heard.

Balance

Balance permeates our lives: we have darkness so we can appreciate light; we have bad so we can appreciate good. But balance is also how we live. And it is sometimes very difficult to attain balance in what we choose.

We are not just a physical presence in this world. We are mind, body, and spirit. It’s important to keep all three in balance. If we focus on strengthening only the body, our minds and spirits will suffer. Focusing only on one or two of these will make the other(s) wither.

There are many ways to keep our bodies and minds active, and it seems we all manage to keep those two going. But what about spirit? What is it and how do we keep it strong?

I am no expert; I can only say what I have learned in my years on this earth. To me, spirit is the very essence of who we are. It is what makes us human. When we neglect our spirit, our body and mind can go downhill quickly.  Spirit is a tricky thing, and easy to ignore. We can eat healthy food, stay hydrated, keep our minds active, and yet neglect the spirit.

Where to begin? I try to take time each day to reflect on what I want to accomplish, on what I will do to reach my goal(s) for the day. Some days, one goal is all I can handle! It’s important to have time to yourself, even if it’s only a few minutes. Each of us must decide for ourselves what we need to do to recharge. For me, it’s being in Nature.

I find being outside peaceful and healing. It’s a few minutes without distractions; a few minutes to observe how the ants follow a certain trail; how a hawk flaps its wings to stay in the thermals to soar and conserve energy; or how the ground squirrel pokes her head out of her hole to see if all is clear; to stay still and watch the geckos chirp and chase the bugs that gather around the light on the back porch. It is in these quiet moments that I discovered that geckos have voices, that ground squirrels have a vocabulary of calls, that hummingbirds are really quite noisy!

Some days, I hear my mind going constantly; it’s hard to turn it off. Being in Nature helps me to focus on what’s important to me. There is a beauty in Nature if we take the time to see it.